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Domino is
a "disarmingly
work that "pushes
us to reexamine our
relationship to images
and their consumption,
not only ethically
but metaphysically"
-Collin Brinkman

De Palma on Domino
"It was not recut.
I was not involved
in the ADR, the
musical recording
sessions, the final
mix or the color
timing of the
final print."

Listen to
Donaggio's full score
for Domino online

De Palma/Lehman
rapport at work
in Snakes

De Palma/Lehman
next novel is Terry

De Palma developing
Catch And Kill,
"a horror movie
based on real things
that have happened
in the news"

Supercut video
of De Palma's films
edited by Carl Rodrigue

Washington Post
review of Keesey book


Exclusive Passion

Brian De Palma
Karoline Herfurth
Leila Rozario


AV Club Review
of Dumas book


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Thursday, November 27, 2014
BAMcinématek in Brooklyn began a "Sunshine Noir" film series last night (Wednesday) with a screening of William Friedkin's To Live and Die in L.A. Brian De Palma's Body Double is included in the series, and will screen this Tuesday, December 2nd. The series "explores what happens when noir steps out of the shadows and into the neon-lit boulevards of LA," according to the BAM website. "Burrowing beyond the glitz and glamour of Tinseltown, these hard-boiled tales of outsiders and antiheroes expose the seedy underbelly of the City of Angels." There are almost too many great movies in the series to name them all here, but today and tomorrow, Roman Polanski's Chinatown will play, and on December 8 will be Paul Thomas Anderson's new film, Inherent Vice.

In previewing the series, Blouin Art Info's Craig Hubert states, "Noir was born in Southern California." Here is an excerpt in which Hubert discusses several of the films in the series, including Body Double:
The cynicism of “Chinatown” opened up the floodgates for a new strain of bitter Sunshine Noir. But there were also increasing levels of pollution and the emergence of postmodern architecture in Los Angeles (the glass cylinders of the Bonaventure Hotel were constructed between 1974 and 1976) that made the city feel more inhuman. As we crossed into the 1980s, and the former Governor of California was the President of the United States, Sunshine Noir took the city’s nickname, “The Big Orange,” quite literally. William Friedkin’s “To Live and Die in L.A” (1985), screening on November 26, presents a city cast under an atomic tangerine sky as if illuminated by a Dan Flavin fluorescent glow. Demarcated lines of good and evil were completely eroded, with police officers performing robberies and artists counterfeiting money in their painting studio. Jim McBride’s pop-art remake of Godard’s “Breathless” (1983), screening on December 4, takes place in a candy colored Los Angeles where past and present, the Hollywood myth and the tarnished reality, have collided. Both films end ambiguously, portraying Los Angeles as an inescapable landscape of continual violence.

The first sign that the bitterness of the post-“Chinatown” era of Sunshine Noir was mutating once again was Brian De Palma’s “Body Double” (1984), screening December 2, which used John Lautner’s Chemosphere as the swank bachelor pad of the main character, a struggling b-movie actor, and the site where he witnesses a murder. The new sanitized Los Angeles of glass buildings is just a veneer for the city’s inherent seediness, where blood can still stain your minimalist furniture. Michael Mann’s "Heat” (1995), screening on November 6, is the prime result of this shift. The bloated crime drama fully takes place in this Los Angeles, where crimes of passion have been completely erased by crimes of commerce — everything is a transaction, everything is business. Criminals and cops can sit down for a meeting at a diner and nobody blinks and eye. They are practically interchangeable, and both sides have shootouts in the business district wearing Versace suits. Sunshine Noir takes on a different meaning here. The light of Los Angeles is a false light, illuminated from the inside of sprawling towers. A different, softer glow, but nothing has changed.

Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Inherent Vice” (2014), screening December 8, opens up a new chapter, once again looking to the past. Adapted from the novel by Thomas Pynchon, it presents a vision of Los Angeles that has not stopped believing in its own myths but completely wigged out on an overdose of them. Hippiedom is just another variation of the tangled lie of prosperity, and Pynchon’s world is one of confusion and paranoia. This is Sunshine Noir pushed to absurdist proportions, where the most far-fetched conspiracies suddenly seem possible, and the rotten core of the municipality stretches beyond the city limits. But it’s also the Sunshine Noir that speaks to our present condition. Take a look at the news and you’ll realize it’s closer to the truth than you want to admit.


Posted by Geoff at 1:00 AM CST
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Monday, November 24, 2014
Ute Bergk, the set decorator on Brian De Palma's Passion, was interviewed recently by Travis Bean at Film Colossus. Bergk's work on Passion was the main focus of the discussion. Discussing how production on the film was on-and-off for years, Bergk tells Bean, "There was a point where [De Palma] was thinking, 'Oh, we’ll do it all in London.' And then I mentioned all the cars would be driving on the left side, and he didn’t like that at all."

I'm posting a lot of the highlights from the interview below, but you might as well just go read the entire thing at Film Colossus-- it's a very engaging interview, and is almost exclusively about Passion.


Discussing how she came to be the set decorator on Passion, Bergk tells Bean, "The Production Designer Cornelia Ott, who is a friend of mine, she got the script and got me involved, and we budgeted over and over and over again, because they couldn’t make up their minds where they wanted to shoot, and they had certain actors in mind that didn’t kick in at the right time, at the right point.

"So it was at least over a year before we got storyboards from Brian De Palma. Which were brilliant! He does them all himself. And it’s like a Bible. Because the film took so much time to kick off, he worked them over and over again, so when the filming finally started, it was so straightforward. He had it all planned out. It was fascinating. It was really precise.

"He’s one of these directors that just knows: he’s coming in in the morning, he’s not saying anything, and he’s working with people who he trusts for whatever reasons, and he’s just watching them work for a little while, and then he asks if everybody is ready, and he starts to shoot."


A little later in the discussion, Bean asks, "So if Brian (is it OK if I call him Brian?) is coming on set and not talking to many people, is he talking to you? Or is it pre-planned, where he’s talking to you beforehand? Or is it more organic, where you get there and set things up?"

Bergk replies, "It’s very planned. He never arrives anywhere without expectations. He knows exactly how the room will be set up before he gets there. We would present it all in little models or sketches or photos. And for every location he would have a little folder, and we would explain, 'This is the sofa she sits on,' etc. Like in one of the offices, where you see the white arrangement of very sophisticated white leather sofas: 'This is where the Japanese board is going to sit.' Very rarely will he say, 'Oh, I don’t like this at all.' It’s usually the other way around. And because the arrangements are so classic, you kind of go that route and not allow yourself to be off stylistically. You don’t want to go overly pop, or overly sophisticated."


In one enlightening passage of the interview, Bergk tells Bean about meeting with cinematographer José Luis Alcaine: "I remember that Jose came in, and obviously we did not know each other when we started, and that working relationship came into play very quickly. Because the moment Noomi (Rapace, playing Isabelle) was confirmed for the film, I got a call saying, 'We start prepping ASAP.' Now basically.

"And I said, 'Really? Finally?!'

"And of course, off we went, and Jose came in. José was always trying to discuss things with Brian, which was quite funny, because Brian would always make excuses, like, 'I’ve got to go to the dentist.' Because I think Brian totally trusted him and what he was going to do. So he didn’t want to control him whatsoever. And that was great. That’s why it was so good to work on this movie, because there was freedom.

"And so, I had this long meeting with José and went through all the practicals, which was quite important for the whole film, because, at that point, I wasn’t very knowledgeable of Brian De Palma and unaware of how important all of that is. Because there are sequences, for example, where the entire scene is basically lit by the practicals. And if you see the two different offices (Isabelle and Christine, played by Rachel McAdams), one is white, and one is white-and-black. And if you look closer at what there is in terms of practicals, it’s totally different.

"We had this glass desk in Christine’s office because we wanted to see her legs. And it’s all very sexy and round…and a bit bitchy. Isabelle’s office is the other way around: it’s all very cruel, almost frozen. You see this black, bold standing light in the background, which is pretty much what I thought was her. And it’s a very complicated light fitting because it’s lit in a very complicated way, but José liked it because, for all the dream sequences, he used this black-and-white lighting, which that light fixture naturally gives him.

"And that was a very interesting discussion! I’d never had that before. But obviously that was so important for the whole film. The more time you spend with these guys, the more you get into it. You learn what’s important, that you have to find just the right standing light to place next to Isabel’s bed during her dream sequence. That took me weeks to find!"


When asked by Bean where she went to find decorations for Passion, Bergk replies, "It depends where you are. Passion was shot in Berlin, and we didn’t shoot many sets in the studio. We built a few additions to existing locations, and we’d incorporate architectural details. But the thing with Berlin is: it’s not such an advanced industry, as it is in London [where Bergk resides]. Berlin does not really have facilities.

"So, for Passion, it was all very contemporary. It’s not like you had to do lots of research into some period details. It was contemporary, it was very classic. If you work with Brian De Palma, you know that you have to have mirrors. You will see the ceiling, which is very unusual, because a lot of directors don’t show the ceiling in movies at all. So that’s a very interesting research subject actually: who is looking up in the film?

"And because the style was contemporary, most of the stuff you see is available in shops. It’s very high-class furnishing. In the first scene you see a sofa in Christine’s apartment, and that’s one I had made, which was possibly the most expensive piece of furnishing in the entire film. But I thought it was worth it—there was something existing and I adopted it, changing its color and shape. This kind of film is not rough. It’s a very delicate film.

"There’s this nice sequence where they’re sitting in front of a huge television and a character gets drunk, and he gets drunk on a Fendi, a luxurious settee—and it is so uncomfortable. I saw it in an exhibition. To sit on it is fine, but to get drunk on it is very uncomfortable. It’s not like a sofa that you fall into. And he was supposed to fall into it, but he couldn’t because it has wooden a frame. So when he does fall into it, he makes this sounds like [insert uncomfortable *oomph* sound effect], which is exactly what was needed for this sequence. So that was a good find."


The interview ends with a discussion of the ballet sequence in Passion:


I feel obligated to ask about the ballet sequence, just because it makes me giggle with excitement every time I watch it. I know in the actual ballet studio, there isn’t a lot in there, it’s mostly blue and white walls. Did you contribute anything specific to that sequence? Working with the idea that it would be displayed partly on a split-screen? Or that there would be a lot of empty space to deal with?

Ute Bergk

It was actually more of the other way around. I sent you a video, did you get it?


Yeah yeah, I watched it!

Ute Bergk

That was the original version of the performance. There’s a foundation behind it, and you are very much controlled by this foundation. The choreographer came over from the States and she was very controlling about everything. If you see, in the black and white footage I sent you, in the beginning, the curtain is on a pole and goes up, above the stage, which is where we shot. It was quite difficult to do, because we had this theater setting and everything just goes up, and not up and around. And we had to do it that way. They had to see that pole going up. So we had to build a structure to do that with.

Basically, you have to find the right materials. We had to slim it down because we shot it on a quiet part of the stage, which is in the Renaissance Theater, which is not big at all. So there was a model built that was put into this existing space. And to drape white fabric without having any frills in it is not easy.

The whole ballet sequence—we knew it would be very important, so we shot it for three days in that theater with those two wonderful dancers. And it was crystal clear that the stage design at that point was part of what the story tells. And specifically, in that performance, the audience is the mirror. They dance behind their exercise rails to warm up, and what is behind is basically nothing. It’s like a rehearsel room. And all you see is the door they come in and a window. And that’s all. The rest is up to them. And that was as simple as is. Brian, at that point, was just focused on the dancers.


Well definitely. They’re looking right into the camera, and effectively looking right at you. I’m fascinated by that aspect of the film. Not only the characters are being watched—he’s looking right at the audience and acknowledging their presence in the movie.

Ute Bergk

It was a very artistic approach, obviously. To have the audience as the third part, see that in certain kinds of artwork, like Manet’s paintings for example. The artist plays with the subject as well. So it’s very interesting to address it in that way—it’s a very De Palma style of filmmaking to address the audience. And then the split screen…I still get goosebumps thinking about it.


Posted by Geoff at 11:23 PM CST
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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Gloria Estefan tweeted the picture above, taken at last night's event celebrating the 40th anniversary of Brian De Palma's Phantom Of The Paradise. Estefan is pictured with Tracey Jackson and Paul Williams, the latter of which, of course, wrote the song score for the film and played the villain, Swan. Jackson and Williams have co-written a book together, Gratitude and Trust: Recovery is Not Just For Addicts, and appeared to together this morning on Oprah Winfrey's Super Soul Sunday. All three appeared on stage together last night (see image below, courtesy of a tweet posted by Joachim de Posada).

In response to Estefan's tweet above, Williams tweeted, "I don't have language skills sufficient to describe Emilio and Gloria's generosity. Old Souls. Angels." Emilio is Gloria's husband, a musician and producer who was with her in Miami Sound Machine. Their son, Nayib Estefan, is the man behind Miami's Secret Celluloid Society, which has programmed De Palma's film several times in recent years, culminating in last night's 40th anniversary screening.

According to a report at FOX News Latino, last night, "Estefan acknowledged that she has been a great fan of [Phantom Of The Paradise] since it came out 40 years ago and especially of its music, which was nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe award."

Posted by Geoff at 1:09 PM CST
Updated: Sunday, November 23, 2014 1:33 PM CST
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Wednesday, November 19, 2014
An article today by Shelly Davidov at the Miami New Times provides more details about the link between Gloria Estefan and how she came to be hosting a screening of Brian De Palma's Phantom Of The Paradise, at 11:30pm this Saturday at Coral Gabes Art Cinema (see yesterday's post). The man behind Miami's Secret Celluloid Society is none other than Gloria's son, Nayib Estefan. Estefan has screened Phantom before, but says this will be the last time. The reason? "There is no way humanly possible to top what is going to happen on Saturday night," he posted on the Secret Celluloid Society's Instagram page. He adds that "Gloria Estefan will be conducting an extremely rare introduction and late nite Q+A with someone special." As mentioned yesterday, the rumor is that the "someone special" will be Paul Williams. Estefan tells Miami New Times that his mother "has always been a huge fan and inspired by Paul Williams as a songwriter. When she was in college (before she was married), she went to see Phantom on its original run at a local miami movie theater. She loved the movie and the soundtrack written by Paul Williams so much that one day when her communications teacher asked her to sing a song in class as a project, she chose 'Old Souls,' the ballad from the film."


"Secret Celluloid Cociety is unashamedly a movie cult and Phantom of the Paradise is the definition of a cult movie," Nayib Estefan tells Miami New Times. "Not only one of my favorite movies, but one of the best. [It was] light years ahead of its time; it's the most relevant commentary on the music business ever made and it is more popular now than it's ever been."

Posted by Geoff at 11:34 PM CST
Updated: Thursday, November 20, 2014 6:10 PM CST
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Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Brian De Palma's Phantom Of The Paradise will be screened this Saturday night at 11:30pm at the Coral Gables Art Cinema, in Coral Gables, Florida. But that's not all-- "Come out for a night of surprises featuring Gloria Estefan in-person with a special mystery guest from the film," reads the theater's website description. The Phantompalooza Facebook page sheds some light on the question of why Gloria Estefan, and also the possible identity of the evening's mystery guest. "Apparently," the Phantompalooza post states, "famed songwriter Paul Williams, who wrote the flick's score, was a huge inspiration to Estefan, who sang the film's Old Souls during her communications course in college. Rumor has it Williams, in town for Miami Book Fair International, will make a special guest appearance at the screening." Will there be other surprises? We'll be watching for reports.

Posted by Geoff at 8:52 PM CST
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Friday, November 14, 2014
While in Rome shooting All Roads Lead To Rome, producer Silvio Muraglia told AskaNews that he is developing a movie to be directed by Brian De Palma, and starring Ashton Kutcher. Muraglia said the film will shoot in Canada. No other details about the project were reported.

Posted by Geoff at 8:47 PM CST
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Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Sc Mira, a musical act from Winnipeg made up of Sc (Stephanie Catherine) and Tyler Wagar, released a Halloween-themed mixtape last month made up of three songs, including two Paul Williams-penned numbers from Brian De Palma's Phantom Of The Paradise: "Somebody Super Like You" and "Life at Last." You can listen to the mixtap, titled Candy Apples and Razor Blades, via the YouTube video embedded below. The third song is a cover of the Misfits' "Halloween."

Sc Mira received some attention this year for its single, "On My Own," and have an EP (Waiting Room Baby) all ready to go for next year that was mixed by Arcade Fire producer Howard Bilerman, according to MetroNews' jrockarolla. In that same article, Sc tells jrockarolla that she grew up watching Phantom Of The Paradise. "I’ve seen that movie so many times," she tells jrockarolla. "My dad showed it to me and my siblings as kids, and I remember thinking it was so scary." Wagar then adds, "Winslow’s mask still freaks me out."

Last month, the members of Sc Mira discussed their love of Phantom Of The Paradise with Sam Tweedle at Confessions of a Pop Culture Addict:

Sam: So this is a gem you’re sitting on. Now I read you have a Halloween project in the works.

Tyler: Yeah. We just had a Halloween EP released about a half an hour ago. We recorded a couple of our favorite Halloween tunes.

Sc: Yeah. It’s free on-line as a Sound Cloud stream, but Exclaim! did an article on it. We did it as a free release to get some content out there because we are sitting on the EP. Its three songs. Two are covers from the soundtrack of The Phantom of the Paradise.

Tyler: Oh yeah.

Sam: Phantom of the Paradise is one of my top three all-time favorite films!

Sc: Nobody usually knows what it is.

Sam: What songs did you do?

Sc: We did

Life at Last and Somebody Super Like You because the themes are very Halloweeny. The last song we did is Halloween by the Misfits.

Sam: Now it’s Winnipeg that has that strange Phantom of the Paradise cult following, right?

Tyler: That’s defiantly Winnipeg.

Sam: Yeah – that film was a hit in Winnipeg and nobody else in the world.

Sc: Yeah. I grew up watching Phantom of the Paradise. I’ve seen it so many times. My Dad would show it to us and my siblings. I guess Tyler watched it as a kid too.

Tyler. Yeah. It was also my Dad’s favorite musical film.

Sc: So it just seemed natural because Phantom of the Paradise is common ground for both of us. We both already knew the songs. I listen to the record year round.

Sam: So do I. I have it on my computer in my office. It’s one of my all-time favorite film soundtracks.

Tyler: When we were working on the EP in Montreal last year we ended up in a vintage store and ended up finding the record just lying around.

Sc: I had been looking for that record for a long time. We found it for three dollars in some shop that we went into. We both went in and thought I might find something worth taking home and I found it at the very back of the stack.


Posted by Geoff at 9:26 PM CST
Updated: Wednesday, November 12, 2014 9:28 PM CST
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The CW series Supernatural aired its 200th episode last night, and presented it as a musical. Series writer and producer Robbie Thompson tells TV Line's Vlada Gelman that Phantom Of The Paradise contributed to the vibe of the songs.

"Unlike something like ‘Once More, With Feeling,’ which is integrated into the story, this is more the boys seeing a music version of their lives,” Thompson explains to Gelman. "So it’s a little more presentational.” Thompson tells Gelman that he listened to “mostly musicals and one movie, Phantom of the Paradise, which is this ’70s, weird Brian De Palma movie which I just love from my childhood. So somewhere in between Rent and Phantom of the Paradise, which is a weird mix."

Posted by Geoff at 12:34 AM CST
Updated: Tuesday, November 11, 2014 11:42 PM CST
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Saturday, November 8, 2014
Brian De Palma's Mission To Mars was loved by several critics when it was released in 2000, making several of their top 10 lists for the year, as well. However, it was also well-hated, and seen mostly as an artistic failure at the time. A new consensus appears to be emerging, however: that Mission To Mars is a "half-masterpiece" (see David Edelstein excerpt below), and with the glass half-full, at that, instead of half-empty (even though, of course, we still have the critics referred to above who see a full head-on masterpiece). As Christopher Nolan's Interstellar is released in theaters these past few days, several articles are emerging that survey previous space movies, including Mission To Mars. The bulk of the articles, as one might expect, use Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey as the touchstone. And of course, as expected, Armond White's review of Interstellar makes note of De Palma's film (White was one of the aforementioned critics who saw Mission To Mars as a masterpiece upon its release). Not surprisingly, White is not impressed by Interstellar, which he calls a "dull, galumphing white elephant" (his review of the film is subtitled "To Insipidness and Beyond").

I myself went into Interstellar expecting to find it mostly tedious, but I actually loved almost every minute. Perhaps I went with lowered expectations, but I really enjoyed the story and the way it was told. I found it to be a spectacular experience. It may not have quite the visual panache of a Kubrick or a De Palma, or even a Shyamalan, but there are some strong images, and Nolan's film seems informed by all three of those filmmakers, as well as, of course, Spielberg (and I'm sure many others). And Interstellar seems driven by the same impulse that drove De Palma when making Mission To Mars: the rekindling of a passionate desire to explore the universe, to think of the big picture, to discover what we're all about.


In the first link/excerpt below, critic Bilge Ebiri suggests that Mission To Mars works best, for him, as a silent picture scored by Morricone. Here, with POSSIBLE SPOILERS, are the links/excerpts:

"The 16 Best Space Movies Since 2001: A Space Odyssey"
by David Edelstein and Bilge Ebiri, Vulture

#14 Mission To Mars
Ebiri: Here’s how you watch Brian De Palma’s Mission to Mars. First, you turn off the sound. (If you’re a rabid Ennio Morricone fan like me, you can buy or download the soundtrack and play it over the movie.) Then you turn the whole movie off about 20 minutes before the end. Devoid of the ridiculous dialogue and one of the craziest and most tone-deaf finales I’ve ever witnessed, this is riveting, managing to create a vision of space that’s genuinely terrifying. That’s quite an achievement in an age where visions of space travel on film have become so mundane. De Palma has always been a master of onscreen space — the cinematic kind, not the outer kind — and when he’s given free rein to go to town with his setpieces here, it’s often glorious.

Edelstein: I couldn’t agree more with your advice to stop watching 20 minutes from the end. What upset me about Mission to Mars was its epically dumb finale, which made me dismiss what came before retroactively. (Others did, too: This film is hated.) The thing is, it’s a gorgeous work, alternately intimate and vertiginous, the work of a great filmmaker exploring a new set of variables — ones that take him out of his spatial-temporal comfort zone and induce, as you’ve said, a new kind of terror. The scene in which Tim Robbins removes his helmet in space can hold its own against any human moment in any sci-fi movie. If only we could accept a half-masterpiece.


Interstellar: Christopher Nolan's Movie Shows Kubrick's 2001 Casts Long Shadow!"
by Brian Finamore, Moviepilot

"Out of a lot of the films in vein of 2001, Brian De Palma's much maligned film Mission to Mars is clearly heavily inspired by 2001. As I mentioned it was savagely criticized by critics for it's somewhat awkward, clunky dialogue. However, you'll be hard pressed to find a better looking science fiction film. The space sequences are visually stunning, and the scenes depicting astronauts on Mars looks as if it was shot on location."

"Interstellar and the top 40 space movies"
Tim Robey, The Telegraph

#32 Mission To Mars
"Brian DePalma's oft-derided foray into space opera has a frankly disastrous finale, but there's some unforgettable stuff in it, especially the mid-film hull breach, foreshadowing Gravity, after which members of the exploration team must desperately grab for a handhold on the outer surface of their resupply module."

"Floating in a Most Familiar Way:
21 Notes About Sci-Fi After 2001: A Space Odyssey"
by Alex Pappademas, Grantland

"Mission to Mars, from the year 2001 [editor's note: actually from the year 2000], becomes Brian De Palma’s 2001 somewhere between Earth and the Red Planet. A tracking shot takes us across the ship’s bow and through a porthole, behind which Jerry O’Connell is modeling a double helix — 'That is the exact genetic composition of my ideal woman' — out of floating M&Ms, and Kubrick’s surveying eye gives way to De Palma’s probing camera. Kubrick gave us a Pan Am spaceflight attendant negotiating a circular corridor with Ford-model poise; De Palma has Connie Nielsen swaying to Van Halen’s 'Dance the Night Away' in zero-G, because BRIAN DE PALMA. And while we’re supposed to feel sad for the astronaut who chooses a one-way ticket at the end of the film, the movie also celebrates his decision to go where no one has gone before; his farewell to humanity is cast not as a heroic sacrifice but as a great ride we’re supposed to take."

"14 Movies to See After You Watch Interstellar"
by Christopher Campbell, Film School Rejects

Sunshine (2007)
"As in Interstellar, the space mission in this Danny Boyle-directed movie is all about saving mankind. Nolan’s version has to do with finding a new residence for the people of a dying Earth while in Sunshine it’s our sun that’s burning out. There are a lot of great reasons to see it, but I mostly recommend it for the performance by Chris Evans, as this was when I realized he was better than the junk he had been starring in. Not that this isn’t a flawed feature, mainly when it comes to a villain in the last act. I felt similarly about the sudden villainy of Interstellar, that I could have done without a bad guy."

Mission to Mars (2000)
"There are even more problems with this Brian De Palma-directed space-mission movie, in which a team heads to the red planet in the hopes that humans can survive there. But its climactic hokeyness has a kind of charm, much like that of Interstellar. Here, sorry to spoil the ending, it’s the meeting of actual Martians, who show the Earthlings that Mars was once habitable until an asteroid hit and they had to evacuate. And we on Earth are the descendants of a 'population bomb' sent to this planet, which is the same method the scientists of Interstellar have planned to further mankind if they can’t save the currently existing human race."

Review of Interstellar: "Nolan gets lost in space"
by Baradwaj Rangan, The Hindu

"It would be easy for Nolan to cash in on his name and keep making sure-fire blockbusters. Instead, he’s made a three-hour film that looks like the love child of Michael Bay and Carl Sagan. And when he wants, he can be an amazing filmmaker. The most stunning stretch of Interstellar, for me, was when Cooper, having decided to go to space, drives away from his home and, as he is driving away, we hear the T-minus countdown, and we cut directly to the space shuttle blasting off. We’ve already spent a good amount of time knowing this man and his love for space travel, and we don’t need any more scenes in between. This is dramatic, economical storytelling.

"But why is it absent elsewhere? Why is there so much flab? Why — when compared to, say, Gravity — are there so few visuals that are truly mind-bending, like the shot of a corpse floating in the sea, or the grave sight of the burnt-out parts of a space station? Looking at the zero-gravity sequences here, I was reminded of Brian De Palma’s Mission to Mars — not a great movie, but it certainly had a great stretch where a character cut himself and the blood streaming out formed wondrous patterns, and later, the leads performed a playful waltz in these conditions. Maybe it’s time Nolan rediscovered some of the breathless playfulness he so wickedly unleashed in The Prestige."

Review of Interstellar: "To Insipidness and Beyond"
by Armond White, National Review Online

"Interstellar never explores colonization, good vs. evil, or metaphysics — not even when Coop gives a watch to his petulant daughter Murph (Mackenzie Foy); she tosses the memento in anger, not faith like the rejection of Time in Borzage’s great spiritual tearjerker Three Comrades. Nolan’s parent-child premise becomes a Benjamin Button farce (with Ellen Burstyn reprising her cameo as old Murph from the seniors doc at another point in the film). It lacks the cross-generational, cross-time resonance of that good Jim Caveziel–Dennis Quaid film, Frequency. Brian De Palma’s outward-looking cosmos-politan affirmation in Mission to Mars gets refuted by Nolan’s nuclear-family solipsism. And at the crucial juncture when adult Murph’s (Jessica Chastain) last-ditch efforts to save her family are contrasted with Coop’s, Nolan forgets to intercut the two stories, dragging out another hour. So long panache, adios to 'genius.'

"Critics who follow weak praise for Goodbye to Language with hosannas for Interstellar are disingenuous. You can’t celebrate Godard’s rigorous, ecstatic examination of art and morality and then lead audiences to Nolan’s trite, overblown, unbeautiful, and non-resonant epic. One’s for movie-lovers, the other’s for sheep. When Godard says goodbye to language, the culture represented by Interstellar is what he means."

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Thursday, November 6, 2014

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